Capitals keep on collecting points, hold off Flyers in shootout

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Capitals keep on collecting points, hold off Flyers in shootout

Post by admin » Thu Nov 14, 2019 8:06 am

Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby was the best player on the ice in his team’s 2-1 shootout win against the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday night at Wells Fargo Center. From a couple of point-blank attempts, to a reaching left leg save, he turned away shot after shot until his team jumped over the boards in celebration.

On a night the Capitals let a slim 1-0 lead disappear late, the power play struggled and their two top lines couldn’t produce in regulation, Holtby willed Washington out of Philadelphia with two points against a division foe.

After neither team could break through in overtime — with captain Alex Ovechkin, center Nicklas Backstrom and defenseman Dmitry Orlov all pulling a three-minute shift in the extra period — Washington won the shootout behind strikes from T.J. Oshie and Evgeny Kuznetsov. Oshie improved to 44 for 83 (53 percent) in the shootout for his career. The shooting percentage is the highest for any player in NHL history with at least 60 attempts.

“Every time your goalie only lets in one, you should get at least a point out of that,” center Lars Eller said. “Gives us a very good chance to win, and that is all we can ask, and he certainly did his part tonight.”

Behind Holtby and another strong game from their bottom six, the Capitals (14-2-4) extended their point streak to 13 games (11-0-2). Washington leads the league in wins (14) and points (32) a quarter of the way through the season.

The 30-year-old goaltender, probably heading into free agency after this season, made 30 saves — 10 in the third, four in overtime and the biggest save on Sean Couturier during the shootout to seal the win. Since he allowed three goals on Colorado’s first three shots Oct. 14, Holtby has an 8-0-1 record.

“It was a fun one to be a part of,” Holtby said. “You know, we got big shootout goals and a big shift in overtime that took a lot of guts to get through. Just a fun hockey game.”

The Capitals struck early on Brendan Leipsic’s goal at the 6:13 mark in the first period, during which they outshot the hosts 16-5. The Flyers, riding a four-game winning streak, seized control in the second period but couldn’t convert a number of quality scoring chances thanks to Holtby.

“I thought Braden was outstanding,” Capitals Coach Todd Reirden said. “I thought our first period was one of our best periods of the year in terms of really tilting the ice, and it was all of our lines. Third and fourth line, fourth line getting a goal and third line really chances and opportunities. That was the best game they had.”

Leipsic’s goal, which came off a rebound from a shot off the stick of John Carlson, held until the third period, when Claude Giroux knotted the game at 1 with a power-play goal with 13:22 remaining. The Flyers were on the man advantage after Nic Dowd was called for tripping. Dowd left the game because of a deep cut on his hand. He later returned to the bench but did not take another shift.

As the final frantic minutes of regulation came up empty for both teams, overtime produced multiple chances for both teams but no goals, sending the Capitals to a shootout for the second straight game.

“It’s finding ways to win and gather points, and I felt like we deserved those two points tonight,” Reirden said.

Leipsic nearly scored his second goal later in the first period but was denied with a skilled save by goaltender Carter Hart. Leipsic’s early goal was his second of the season. With the assist, Carlson has 30 points in 20 games, including an NHL-leading 22 assists. He became the eighth defenseman to reach the 30-point mark in 20 games or fewer and first since Al MacInnis (1990-91).

Spearheading the strong first period was Richard Panik, who led the Capitals with four shots on goal in the first and finished with six overall. It was Panik’s second game back after he missed 10 games while on long-term injured reserve. He returned to the team’s penalty kill, which was aided heavily by Holtby on Wednesday, killing three of four Flyers power plays.

The shorthanded unit is still without winger Carl Hagelin (upper body, day-to-day), who has missed the past three games. Panik, signed to a four-year, $11 million deal in the summer, is still looking for his first point. Reirden said he thought Wednesday night was the best he has seen Panik play and that it was “encouraging” moving forward.

Another new addition to the bottom six, Radko Gudas, returned to Philadelphia for the first time since he was traded in the offseason for Matt Niskanen. Gudas was with the Flyers for four seasons.

Gudas contributed to the Capitals’ solid first frame, with an early scoring chance just over five minutes in, but he couldn’t finish past Hart. Gudas has five assists and has been the physical, hard-hitting asset the organization sought. Gudas said this is the best team he has been on in his NHL career.

“A hundred percent. Guys are having fun. We are winning games. We are sticking with it. We are going with the game plan for 60 minutes,” Gudas said. “There is no one is doubting the system. Nobody is on their own page, so it is fun to see from the very beginning of the season.”

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